Proliferation of purple sulphur bacteria at the sediment surface affects intertidal mat diversity and functionality

Cedric Hubas*, Bruno Jesus, Mickael Ruivo, Tarik Meziane, Najet Thiney, Dominique Davoult, Nicolas Spilmont, David M. Paterson, Christian Jeanthon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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There is a relative absence of studies dealing with mats of purple sulphur bacteria in the intertidal zone. These bacteria display an array of metabolic pathways that allow them to disperse and develop under a wide variety of conditions, making these mats important in terms of ecosystem processes and functions. Mass blooms of purple sulphur bacteria develop during summer on sediments in the intertidal zone especially on macroalgal deposits. The microbial composition of different types of mats differentially affected by the development of purple sulphur bacteria was examined, at low tide, using a set of biochemical markers (fatty acids, pigments) and composition was assessed against their influence on ecosystem functions (sediment cohesiveness, CO2 fixation). We demonstrated that proliferation of purple sulphur bacteria has a major impact on intertidal mats diversity and functions. Indeed, assemblages dominated by purple sulphur bacteria (Chromatiaceae) were efficient exopolymer producers and their biostabilisation potential was significant. In addition, the massive growth of purple sulphur bacteria resulted in a net CO2 degassing whereas diatom dominated biofilms represented a net CO2 sink.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere82329
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS One
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2013


  • Roscoff-aber bay
  • Annual benthic metabolism
  • Orkney-islands
  • Fatty-acids
  • Thiocapsa-roseopersicina
  • Sheltered beaches
  • Organic matter
  • Mocrobial mats
  • Mass blooms
  • Scapa flow


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